ROCKY MOUNTAIN Denverâ€™s Rocky Mountain High as you explore Rocky Mountain National Park in...
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Essential Tips To
Plan Your Vacation
A Park Map
N A T I O N A L P A R K T R I P P L A N N E R WINTER 2020
IT’S OKAY TOIT’S OKAY TO COME PLAY IN
IT’S OKAY TO COME PLAY IN
Discover the endless Rocky Mountain adventures awaiting you this winter in Colorado’s Original Playground. Start planning your escape at VisitEstesPark.com
GETTING THERE See a different side of Rocky Mountain National Park when the snow starts to fall.
You may find yourself spontaneously belting out John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High as you explore Rocky Mountain National Park in the winter. Whether you travel by snowshoes or cross-country skis, there’s plenty of solitude and breathtaking beauty among the snow-capped peaks and trails sparkling with thousands of snow crystals.
While there are no lodges inside Rocky Mountain National Park, the park is bordered by two towns offering plenty of services. On the east side of the park, you’ll find Estes Park, Colo., which is not a park but a vibrant town catering to visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park. On the west side sits the quieter Grand Lake, a hidden gem built on the shores of the stunning Grand Lake and nestled in the mountains. In summer, the entrances are connected by the park’s highest road, Trail Ridge Road, but in winter, Trail Ridge Road closes. The only way to travel from one side of the park to the other is via a very circuitous route on I-70.
Because of the sheer traveling distance on winter roads between the two sides of the park, choose which entrance best fits your needs and plan on spending a spectacular winter vacation there. There’s so much winter fun to be had.
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EAST ENTRANCE ESTES PARK EXPLORATION This is definitely the most popular town to drive through on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park. It has a bustling downtown that caters to tourists and includes everything from coffee and outdoor gear shops to a full-service grocery store. All of it sits under incredible geologic formations that attract rock climbers from all over the world in the summer and fall. While Estes Park, Colo., does not have a cross-country or downhill ski area, Rocky Mountain National Park offers an incredible variety of trails with majestic views to explore by skis or snowshoes.
Just a 1-hour-and-45-minute drive from Denver (90 minutes if you don’t go through Boulder), Estes Park has a variety of cabins, hotels and inns to base out of for park adventures. There are a number of shops in Estes Park that rent snowshoes, boots and cross-country skis, including Estes Park Mountain Shop, which offers equipment at reasonable rates. The YMCA of the Rockies just outside of the park has lodging options, rents snowshoes and offers guided tours.
From Denver take I-25 north to Hwy. 36, which routes you through vibrant Boulder and quaint Lyons before reaching Estes Park. Choose between three park entrances once you arrive. The Beaver Meadows Entrance is the most direct entrance from Estes Park. It’s also the most popular. Stop by the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center to get information, books and maps. Like the Beaver Meadows Entrance, the Fall River Entrance is just a few minutes from Estes Park. Drive 5-10 minutes on Hwy. 34 to reach it. The Wild Basin Entrance is about a 30-minute drive south of Estes Park and is a lesser visited area since it is more remote. Access it by heading south on Hwy. 7.
WEST ENTRANCE A GRAND LAKE ADVENTURE This entrance brings you to one of the most authentic towns in Colorado, Grand Lake. Tucked in the folds of the Rocky Mountains and anchored by a stunning lake, this town is lined with shops, restaurants, motels and and hotels, some of which close for the winter. There are no
major grocery stores here and only one small market stays open in winter.
The park’s west side is absolutely stunning in winter with nearby world-class downhill skiing areas, Winter Park Resort about an hour’s drive away. Plus, three spectacular cross-country skiing areas line Hwy. 40, the road to Grand Lake, which is the western gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa, the YMCA’s Snow Mountain Ranch and Grand Lake Nordic Center offer world-class cross-country ski trails.
Grand Lake is two hours and 30 minutes [127 miles] from Denver International Airport. It’s one hour and 45 minutes [90 miles] from the airport to Winter Park Resort.
From Denver take I-70 to exit 232 where you will drive Hwy. 40 through the Victorian-era town of Empire and up and over 11,306-foot Berthoud Pass. Winter Park and Mary Jane base areas sit at the bottom of the pass. From there it’s 45-55 minutes [36 miles] to Grand Lake and Rocky Mountain National Park.
PARK ENTRANCE PRIMER Here’s everything you need to know about accessing Rocky Mountain National Park in the winter.
Rocky Mountain Winter Trip Planner 2020
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C o ntinenta l Divide
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
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Old Fall River Road
Trail Ridge Road
Holzwarth Historic Site
Bear Lake Trailhead
Grand Lake Entrance Station
Fall River Entrance Station
Wild Basin Entrance Station
North Inlet Trailhead
East Inlet Trailhead
Colorado River Trailhead
Alpine Visitor Center
Longs Peak Campground
Timber Creek Campground
Beaver Meadows Entrance Station
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BEAR LAKE MORAINE PARK
NOTE: In winter, Trail Ridge Road, which connects the park’s east side with its west side, closes. The only way to access both sides of the park is via a circuitous route on I-70.
ROCKY’S TOP SIX
Here are some of our favorite things to do from snowshoeing to exploring the park’s neighboring towns.
1 EAT BREAKFAST IN
GRAND LAKE Fuel up for the day a hearty breakfast of French toast, egg dishes or oatmeal at
Blue Water Bakery before heading into the park. Check for opening hours and
days during winter.
2 STRAP ON SKIS
Discover solitude on cross-country skis in the park or at Grand Lake Nordic
Center, which has fantastic views of the park. Or experience downhill skiing
about 50 minutes away at Winter Park Resort in Winter Park, Colo.
3 RIDE A SNOWMOBILE
Outside the park’s west side surrounding Grand Lake lies 150 miles of groomed snowmobile trails that get on average a whopping 185 inches of
snow every winter. Check Visit Grand County online for details.
Rocky Mountain Winter Trip Planner 2020
6 EAT LOCAL IN ESTES PARK
Head to Bird & Jim, the first farm-to-table restaurant in Estes Park, for an incredible meal. Then warm up
with a drink in the Whiskey Bar &